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Will the protests in Iran continue to build or fade away?

5 October 2012

Thousands of Iranians took to the streets this week to protest inflation and the collapse of Iranian currency on international markets. Tehran’s historic Grand Bazaar closed for business with many of its merchants leading the demonstrations.

This will worry the government because traders there are normally seen as bridging the gap between clerics and Iran’s influential mercantile classes. The atmosphere inside the Bazaar is a useful barometer of Iranian political discontent.


During the abortive Green Revolution in 2009 which challenged Ahmadinejad’s re-election, merchants from the Grand Bazaar offered only muted support. In 1979 they swung decisively behind the Islamic Revolution and helped unseat the Shah, having previously secured concessions from the monarchy a century earlier.

Although Ahmadinejad tried to contain the protests by ordering shop keepers to open their stores today, most have stayed closed. Posters declaring ‘Leave Syria alone, think of us instead’ have sprung up around the Bazaar.

The government has responded by cracking down on currency traders, but this will not address the endemic crisis facing Iranian exchange. What matters now is whether these protests continue to build momentum or fade away.

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  • Augustus

    For many months the regime has been denying the effects of sanctions on the Iranian economy.The shortage of international currencies has led to a hoarding mentality among the people. On top of that the regime appears to have cut subsidies on basic commodities such as fuel and food. Hyperinflation can’t be far off. But the regime continues with its military and nuclear expensive projects. Of course, it would be counterproductive for them to protest against their country’s
    nuclear programme, If they did, the ayatollahs would call them anti-patriotic and accuse them of
    undermining national security. But the die is not yet cast, and even if the ayatollahs are forced to withdraw their involvement from Syria,
    Lebanon and Gaza in order to focus their resources on their own economy, the megalomaniacal Iranian nuclear programme will be the last to be cut. The economic sanctions on Iran could be effective if toughened. At the current
    level they are an obstacle for the malicious Iranian regime, but they are not
    posing a threat to its continued reign. The vicious tiger is moderately wounded,
    but if it isn’t killed it could pose a bigger threat than it already is now. A
    job half done could prove to be even more dangerous than no action at all. Finish the job!

    • Daniel Maris

      Finish the job with an economic blockade: close all ports and airports. If the people of Iran want a government of nutters, let them live with the consequences. If they don’t, well they need to organise to defeat the regime.

      • John

        Iran’s economy has been teetering on the edge of a cliff for months; push it over…

  • John_Page

    Are people in the wider country seeing an effect on their living standards, and if so do they know why?

  • sir_graphus

    They might need to start a war to swing the people back into line.

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